Writing an Executive Summary

Publication date

15 Mar 2019

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An executive summary is one of the most crucial parts of a report. It represents a chance for the author to grab the reader’s attention and draw them in to the main document. When readers are pressed for time, it may be the only part of the report they read, so a well-written summary is vital. Unfortunately, summaries are often an afterthought for authors, and are frequently written in haste.

Part of Oxfam’s Research Guidelines series, this guideline gives a short overview of how to write an engaging executive summary that conveys the most important information from the main report in a clear, concise way. It provides tools for thinking about how to get the most out of your summary, as well as examples from academia and business, plus tips on things to avoid. This guide was originally written in 2015 and was updated in 2019.